Archive for the ‘Chocolate’ Category

Chocolate, Elevated

August 6, 2015

Continuing my quest to sample all that the Seattle street markets have to offer, I’ve been converted to two artisan candy-makers (and wish they would open a Seattle storefront!). The first is Trevani Truffles, which can be found at the U-District Farmer’s Market as well as others in and around Seattle. Trevani is thoughtful with their ingredients (quality chocolate, local add-ons), creative with their flavors, and FRESH. They don’t use preservatives which was just one more reason to quickly scarf down the four truffles I got:

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I believe the one on the left is called “Cake” which is a white chocolate ganache with lemon. Normally I’m not a fan of white chocolate but the chocolatier convinced me to try it and I was not led astray. Flavorful, bright, and buttery! I also got a Cherri Bomb, which uses local cherries, and a Buttah (caramel with sea salt). Frankly, any of this stand’s fine chocolates are bound to impress even the snobbiest of chocolaholics and I expect I’ll be back for more (happily, they are at the U-District market year round).

Dolcetta is just as enticing so it’s lucky they’re at two different markets – Docetta is at the South Lake Union Saturday Market. There are chocolates, but there are also brownies and caramels for sale… so naturally I got some of each.

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The brownie was pretty amazing. On the fudgy side, but not overly dense, with a complex cocoa flavor. The candy bar was dark chocolate with a pretzel crunch – a perfect afternoon snack for work. Finally, out of several caramel flavors I chose the maple pepper. The flavor was nice but it was the texture that did it for me – soft, buttery, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth texture that leaves you satisfied but licking your lips. Here’s to hoping both these spots start selling daily in a location convenient to ME.

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Chocolat Vitale

April 25, 2015

Seeing as how April in Seattle has been about as cold as February, I thought I’d take myself out for some hot chocolate at Chocolat Vitale in Phinney Ridge. Oops, did I say hot chocolate? I meant drinking chocolate, of course! The difference is in thickness – drinking chocolate is a much thicker, richer version of hot chocolate… and therefore better. This little chocolate/beverage cafe does it right, complete with steamed milk and your choice of chocolate.

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I chose the darkest available, a dark cocoa from Venezuela (you can also get it as a mocha, which I imagine would be divine).  The owner disappeared into the back and returned a few minutes later with a steaming, foamy, and incredibly chocolatey cup:

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I also got one of her own chocolates (most of hers are imported from Europe) – a dark chocolate nut cluster. It was good, but the true highlight was indeed the drinking chocolate, which was electrifying and comforting at the same time. It had a deep, complex flavor, and easily satisfied my chocolate cravings for the day. In case you were wondering, the drink can also be ordered cold – so I’ll be stopping by again this summer!

Intrigue Chocolates

April 20, 2015

Fran’s and Theo’s chocolates are easy to come by in Seattle, but if you’re in the mood for more of an adventure (and to me, a trip to Pioneer Square is always an adventure), check out Intrigue Chocolates. It’s hardly a chocolate shop – more like a kitchen where you can sample and buy what they’re making. Aaron, the owner and chocolatier in chief, will share generous samples and explain the process for eating an Intrigue ganache truffle: don’t chew it, let it melt in your mouth!

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If you’re lucky, he’ll also let you try the “zombie” mixture – they basically melt down all the unused chocolates (all different flavors) and pop it in the fridge until it hardens back into a ganache – with every bite a different flavor. I walked away with a sampler (note, these must be kept refrigerated):

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My favorite flavors were Jamaican Hot Chocolate, Basil, and Earl Grey. You can expect strong flavors along with the obvious love and care that goes into the chocolates. I highly recommend stopping by – they’re open Saturdays until 4 PM and it’s fun just finding the place, which is tucked away up a staircase and down a hall. Make it an adventure.

Oh! Chocolate

June 23, 2013

I’ve done Theo’s and Fran’s, but for some reason I never had thought to stop in at Oh! Chocolates on Madison, even though it’s a few minutes car ride from me.  Oh! originated on Mercer Island (or Hawaii, depending on how far back you go) and they have a great tradition of being very generous with the free samples (I ended up having as many free truffles as I bought).

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After a careful tasting of some of the more unusual creations (the vegan truffle was surprisingly good), I made my selections: Americano Truffle, Tiramisu Truffle, Grand Marnier Truffle, and Hawaiian Caramel.

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The white one is actually the Americano, and inside was a coffee and dark chocolate filling. I’d pick that as the best of the four, followed closely by the Grand Marnier which was deliciously dark and complex. The Hawaiian Caramel had an interesting coconut addition, and the tiramisu was a little sweet.  This is definitely the place to go for true chocolate lovers – with little of the milk or white chocolate to weaken the experience.

Wine, Tea, Chocolate

March 3, 2013

I like two of the three things that make up this cafe’s name (I’m not a big wine drinker, it makes me sleepy and headachy) so I thought there was a good chance I’d fall for Wine, Tea, and Chocolate in Fremont. I came mainly for the chocolate, so I started out with a sample of their sipping chocolate. The guy working the counter warned me that it wasn’t for everyone because of its spicy, citrusy flavor, and kindly offered me a sample before buying. I was grateful for the warning and the trial-size – the flavor was not up my alley. I went with a grilled cheese and pear sandwich and chocolate pudding pie instead, and settle into a table (there was plenty of space, they were not at all crowded on a Saturday).

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I like the fact that there was plenty of space and light, with expansive windows and luxurious curtains. But somehow I found the overall setting a bit cold and unfriendly. Maybe because everything was so new – no old cozy couches or well-worn tables in the style of so many coffee shops I generally haunt. But my stomach felt right at home with the grilled cheese, and I ended up asking for the pie to go. This proved to be a bit of a chore for my server, who kindly put it into a coffee cup!

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With a decadent chocolate pudding base, hazelnuts, a shortbread cookie, and cream, this was a big cup of goodness. I was most impressed with the pudding itself, which had none of the watery gelatinous taste of grocery store pudding cups. Instead, the pudding was rich – I could only eat half in one sitting – and intensely flavored. To me, this place is less of a wine bar and more of a coffee/lunch/dessert place, but I will happily taste my way through the menu as they work on their identity.

 

Bakery Nouveau

February 7, 2011

I’d heard so many good things about Bakery Nouveau, and would have visited it sooner if I’d been able to spell it correctly in a Google search. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated by it’s reputation as one of Seattle’s best bakeries (not to mention the plethora of vowels in the name), and when I got there I was quickly overwhelmed by the choices and the crowds of people.

It’s not easy to choose carefully when there are so many delicious-looking items and a long line waiting behind you!  I wanted lunch, so I got a piece of pesto pizza, plus a slice of German Chocolate Cake (pictured below). As an afterthought I got a chocolate croissant for the next morning. The pizza was super-salty but also super-good. The crust is a lot less doughy than traditional pizza crust, and the pesto was top-notch. The cake, on the other hand, did not excite me:

Everything about it was fine, but not spectacular. Later (after reading some reviews) I realized I should have tried the classic chocolate cake instead, since the ganache is apparently to-die-for.  However, I did luck out with the chocolate croissant:

In the rush of getting ready for work the next morning, I almost forgot about it, but remember in time to heat it up and chow down. After one bite, I knew I’d found my new favorite croissant place (remind me to do a taste-test someday against Besalu). It was perfect and I’d drive over to West Seattle any day just for the pleasure of eating one of these.

Quick tip: If you visit on the weekend, plan on getting your food to-go… it’s pretty hard to get a table.

 

Dilettante

January 2, 2011

What do you do in the depths of winter in Seattle, when it doesn’t get light till 8:00 and starts getting dark at 3:30? My solution is to eat chocolate. That’s why, around this year’s solstice, I decided to go to Dilettante Mocha Bar/Cafe for dinner. Dilettante specializes in everything chocolate – basically a mecca for any Seattle chocoholic. They do serve regular food (my friend got a very good grilled cheese) but I wanted cake for dinner, which is how I ended up with the Ephemere Truffle Torte – my ultimate chocolate experience.

The menu lists the cake as “Austrian-style,” meaning it’s rich and very moist.  Not too sweet, and quite dense, this is currently my favorite cake.  What makes it perfect is the addition of raspberry preserves between the cake and frosting (I’ve always been obsessed with that combination of flavors).  Perfect for a dark December day, but I was also a little thirsty. Luckily, Dilettante also makes the best chocolate martini in Seattle.

This was the Mexican Chocolate Martini – truffle sauce blended with cinnamon, triple sec, and tequila.  The cinnamon was what set it apart from other chocolate martinis I’ve had – a lovely, dark twist that deepens the flavor. If you aren’t in the mood for alcohol, they offer plenty of coffee and hot chocolate drinks using a variety of chocolates.  Dilettante is also a great place to shop for gifts (they have locations at Cap Hill, Westlake, Kent, and even SeaTac), with a beautiful array of truffles:

You can also order them online.  Or grab one for the road, in case you haven’t already had enough chocolate for the day.  In any case, Dilettante promises to satisfy the cravings of the most die-hard chocoholic… although they have carrot cake too.

 

Cafe Chocolati

January 28, 2010

Chocolati, a Seattle chocolatier, has several cafe locations in addition to their factory in Greenlake.  I stopped by their Wallingford location (they also have a location in the downtown Seattle Public Library) to see what all the fuss is about.

The cafe is the right combination of Seattle-grunge-coffeeshop and Seattle-fine-chocolateshop and there was a heady aroma of both coffee and chocolate (the best of both worlds!).  Although some people have complained about poor service, I didn’t have any problems (although I didn’t go with the barista’s recommendations).

There was no real food, so if you want a sandwich or some breakfast with your coffee you’ll need to go elsewhere. However, in terms of desserts, there were two different displays to look at – one consisted of all the different chocolates offered (made in their own factory) and another of various cookies and dessert items:

I chose two chocolates – the Bittersweet and the Cocoa Beware.  To round things out, I also grabbed a Chocolate-Dipped Chocolate Chip cookie:

The chocolates were good, although I didn’t think the Bittersweet was bitter enough. The Cocoa Beware was much more intense and interesting, with a hint of nutmeg.  But the real highlight was definitely the cookie. It was everything I like in a cookie – soft but not chewy, crumbly, buttery, flavorful. The high-quality chocolate coating (and chocolate chips) made it complete. I would definitely go back just for the cookie (or a cup of hot chocolate… I hear it’s really good!).

Fran’s Chocolates

November 21, 2009

The stormy November weather and the fast-falling darkness (is it just me, or did it get dark today at 3:30?) this weekend led me to seek the warm comfort of Fran’s hot chocolate. Does Fran’s have the best hot chocolate in Seattle? I can’t say for sure yet, because I haven’t tried them all (getting there), but I have to say it ranks right up there with the City Bakery in New York and That-Place-I-Can’t-Remember-Its-Name in Paris.

Not for the faint-of-heart, this hot chocolate is more like melted cocoa with butter and cream. It tastes nothing like the watery stuff you get at Starbucks – it is intense, gritty, and delicious. Drink it for a pick-me-up after a long day of shopping… or just after a long day.  And while you’re there, pick up a few chocolates – after all, that’s what they’re known for:

I was quite impressed with the selection of dark and bittersweet chocolates, but had to limit myself to just three as the little bitty pieces are not cheap: most are $1.50. I finally settled on Raspberry Truffle, Oolong Tea, and Dark Chocolate Caramel.

My favorite, naturally, was the raspberry. What is it about this magical combination that always makes me shine a little brighter?? Like the hot chocolate, the flavor was gritty and intense, and the raspberry was strong – just the way I like it. Still, while the chocolates would make a great gift for any chocolate lover this Christmas, I’m going back just for the cup of hot cocoa. You just can’t find that kind of happiness anywhere else.

Fran’s Chocolates has locations in the U-Village, Downtown, and Bellevue.

Theo Chocolates

October 11, 2009

Money may not grow on trees, but chocolate does.  And it tastes better too.  Theo Chocolates, however, will cost you a pretty penny (three dollars per truffle!) unless you go to their factory location in Fremont, in which case the free samples will satisfy most chocolate cravings.

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Theo prides itself on using only fair-trade, organic, sustainably grown cocoa beans, which partly explains the high price of their chocolate bars.  But, I have to say, you do get what you pay for: Theo chocolates are intense, just the way chocolate should be (my opinion).  For those like me, who live for very dark chocolate, Theo offers bars with 75%, 84%, and 91% cocoa.  The latter was a little much for me, but the 75 and 84 are pure heaven (in small doses).  In addition, Theo is creative.  Try the Ghost Chili Carmel (if you can take intense heat) or the Rose Carmel (wouldn’t you like to taste the smell of roses?).  There are even stranger confections, such as Peanut Butter and Jelly, Fig Fennel, Scotch, and  lavender-jalepeno. If you’re not ready to fork over money for such strange concoctions, visit the Fremont location to take a taste test of almost anything Theo offers:

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While you’re there, take a tour of the factory (you might need to make an advance reservation and the tours are $6/person) and get Theo’s full story.  If you’re there to buy a treat for yourself (or someone else, if you have the willpower), I recommend the following: Cocoa Nib Brittle, Rose Carmel, and the Peanut Butter Big Daddy, all pictured below.

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The triangle piece on the left is the Nib Brittle, which contains cocoa nibs (100% cocoa nuggets), which taste a bit like nuts (you can use the nibs in cooking too, or on salad!).  In the middle is the Peanut Butter Big Daddy, basically a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup for grown-ups (graham cracker crust, vanilla caramel, peanut butter praline, and dark chocolate). On the right is the Rose Caramel – the ultimate Valentine’s Day chocolate.

Theo is open 7 days a week from 10-6, and is located 3400 Phinney Ave N in Fremont.